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Tips for a Successful Music Audition

Updated on October 16, 2019
Hilary Hsieh profile image

Hilary Hsieh has played the piano for 16 years and the flute for 10 years. She has succeeded in numerous auditions, including All-State Band


These tips are written from the perspective of a wind players as I am a flautist. However, string players and percussionists may find this to be helpful as well.

A collection of band instruments
A collection of band instruments | Source

Before You Set Out

Here are some things you may want do before leave for your audition:

1) Bring a bottle (or more) of warm water.

This is especially important for wind players and singers. Warm water will help keep your throat and mouth moist, helping you produce your best tone. The heat can also help keep your fingers warm and nimble as frozen fingers are the worse during technical passages.

2) Eat a light meal/ bring a snack.

Playing on an empty stomach is the worst, especially for those of us who are dependent on our lungs and diaphragm. However, if your belly is overstuffed, you may feel sluggish and find it difficult to breathe. Eating a moderate meal can remove that distracting, painful, hollow feeling in your stomach while leaving enough room to breathe. Alternatively, you can bring a snack (such as a banana or two) to silence the rumbles, lest the judges hear your unruly accompanist.

3) Bring breath mints/gum

If you run out of water, these can save you. Pop one in your mouth to keep the saliva and the music flowing. Just make sure you're not snapping the gum during the audition!

4) Wear a jacket

This obviously depends on the season, but we can all agree that cold fingers and instruments do not mix well. I recommend that you bring a jacket even in summer as the audition building could be pumping too much air conditioning to be comfortable. Do whatever it takes to prevent those frozen fumbles!

5) Bring a metronome

I am one of those people that rush horribly when nervous. Use your metronome to drive the beat into your mind That annoying, incessant clicking could save you from running off the rails and crashing. Alternatively, it could prevent you from putting the judges to sleep.

6) Leave early

It is better to be an hour early than an hour late. When you arrive, you have to find a parking spot, check in, warm up, and find your audition room. If you arrive too late, you may not even get to audition!

Water is the most important thing to bring to an audition.
Water is the most important thing to bring to an audition. | Source

Prevent Anxiety Jitters

These tips can help reduce anxiety and stress before and during the audition.

1) Eat a banana

Bananas are packed with potassium, which help regulate your heart rate and decrease stress. Additionally, they contain serotonin-boosting tryptophan and magnesium, promoting relaxation.Eat a banana or two 30 minutes before your audition to get those anxiety-reducing molecules ready to go.

2) Take beta-blockers

Beta blockers are molecules that prevent adrenaline from binding to beta receptors. This decreases your pulse rate and blood pressure, helping you stay level-headed. Some generic names for beta blockers are acebutolol (Sectral), betaxolol (Kerione), and metoprolol (Lopressor). When you take these, follow the instructions provided on the package.

3) Avoid caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it triggers your body's "fight or flight" response. This can make anxiety even worse, or even trigger an anxiety attack. While a hot cup of coffee is normally a great wake-me-up, it does not work well with your strung out audition nerves. Go for a soothing cup of herbal tea instead.

Bananas can help with anxiety
Bananas can help with anxiety | Source

Warming Up

1) Don't play for more than 20 minutes

When you play during your audition, you want to feel fresh and warmed up. However, warming up too long in the practice room can drain your stamina. Don't over-practice and wear yourself out. All of your practicing should be done already because it's too late to make any significant change to your playing the day of your audition. Get in there, warm up, and get out.

2) Don't practice the entire repertoire

In the practice room, you will want to focus on long tones and warm-up exercises. While playing through your entire repertoire 20 times is tempting, it would only serve to exhaust you. Instead, focus on the areas that you have trouble with, as well as technically difficult parts. For example, if the starting note of your piece is pianissimo or piano, rehearse that note until every try is a flawless beginning.

3) Try to ignore the other players in the room

You are an amazing player. You, along with everyone else, have spend countless hours practicing your pieces. However listening to others will likely result in you psyching yourself out. Other people aren't as great as you perceive, and you are better than you think. Keep your chin up, stay confident, and good luck!

4) Leave the practice room 15 minutes before your audition

Sometimes, auditions run late, dragging on until you audition an hour after your scheduled time. Other times, they are on time, or even early. I have once arrived at my audition 20 minutes early, seeing a deserted hallway, and immediately getting called in to play. It is always better for them to keep you waiting than for you to keep them waiting.

Keeping track of time before the audition is very important.
Keeping track of time before the audition is very important. | Source

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